Jan van Eyck was a highly polished portrait painter though his work was much more diverse than just this genre alone. This piece has been examined scientifically and from this we can date it at around 1436, certainly relatively late in the artist's career. It's place in the respected collection of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin allowed the resources to be found for further research into the painting. It is normally institutions such as this who have both the experts and tools on hand with which to carry out this type of forensic study. Much was already known about Van Eyck more generally because of work of a number of art historians over the centuries since his career took place. The only area of his work that can be added to all these centuries later would be specific information around the methods used in each work, with all documentation around his life having been discovered or destroyed by now.
Within this portrait we find an ageing man with the signs of a long life etched into his facial features. He wears a fur hat which dominates over the background. His grey outfit is also lined with a similar material which the artist beautifully captures, allowing us to almost reach out and stroke the soft animal product. He holds a flower in one hand which immediately suggests a symbolic touch from van Eyck and he also wears a smart piece of silver jewellery which hangs a cross from his chest area. The way in which the artist accurately recreates each of these different materials underlines his impressive technical knowledge and provides plenty of interest within what otherwise would be a fairly simple portrait.
The Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, which translates as the painting gallery, hosts a particularly relevant selection of old master paintings, in which van Eyck's Portrait of a Man with Carnation will be found. Vermeer's The Wine Glass and Woman with a Pearl Necklace can also be found here, amongst many other prominent works from North European artists. It is essentially a who's who of art from this region over the period of several centuries, though others are also included from the likes of Spain and Italy who were also highly relevant during this period. Portrait of a Young Girl by Petrus Christus, Amor Victorious by Caravaggio, Christ Carrying the Cross by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Albrecht Dürer's Portrait of Jakob Muffel are some of the highlights to be found here. You will find the collection currently housed in the Kulturforum museum district, which lies just west of Potsdamer Platz.